Some of the participants in the Italian Camp 4 Kids strike a pose on the grounds of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum.

Italian Camp 4 Kids at Staten Island’s Garibaldi-Meucci Museum recently wrapped-up, giving children in two age groups, ages five to eight and ages nine to 12, a chance to learn about Italian culture in a fun and innovative way. 

The program included Italian language immersion with games, songs, movement, arts and crafts, and imaginative play to create an entertaining, age-appropriate, natural learning environment. Another interesting aspect of the camp was the major contributions that CSI Education Department Adjunct Lecturer Janet Grillo and four student volunteers from the College’s Early Childhood Education program (juniors Allison Babwah and Daniela Arcuri, and  2011 graduates Regina Mireau and Michelle Martinese) made.

Explaining the structure of the camp and how she feels about the four students, Grillo said, “I am so very proud of my CSI students…They are extremely dedicated and innovative. I gave them a few minor guidelines and told them to create the schedule and curriculum for the camp.” 

Grillo added, “The purpose of the museum is to bring awareness to all of the great Italian culture. Our camp was created to continue this with young children. The best way to keep a culture alive is to keep the language alive. The children learned the colors and numbers in Italian as well as key phrases. Throughout the day our Italian teacher, Daniela, translated whatever was going on and the children repeated the phrases. Our arts and crafts staff, Michelle and Allison, devised all sorts of crafts that reinforce the four topics. They came in early and prepared the activities for the day. Regina helped with the planning prior to the camp’s opening.” 

So how did the kids who took part enjoy the camp? “I like that we learn Italian. There are stories, and you get to play with bubbles and there are kids,” said Bram, age five. “There is a lot of outdoor play and I like my camp counselors, so the camp was awesome,” Sophia, age nine commented. Samuel, who is also nine years old, was really enthusiastic. “I really like it, I think it’s top notch. I give it five stars, hands down.” 

For their part, the CSI students also enjoyed the experience. Daniela Arcuri stated, “It felt so refreshing to be intimately involved and a part of such a close-knit summer camp that immersed the Italian language with play and water fun. Professor Grillo is like a mentor to me, and as soon as she asked me to teach children Italian, I was absolutely delighted and knew it would be a success. In fact, it was. Ultimately, each of the parents praised our teaching methods, the many activities, and everything else that our camp had to offer.” 

Allison Babwah noted that the camp “was a great experience for me because I had to create many art and craft activities infused with both the Italian language and the Italian culture. By doing so, the children were able to do arts and crafts, learn about Italy, and learn the Italian language all at once.” 

Grillo learned something, as well, something about her four CSI volunteers. “These four young women have shown maturity and dedication. They will undoubtedly become fine teachers. I see the focus, dedication, and joy that they have for the field.”